AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on March 2, 2014 at 11:02 PM

US, Ukraine urge Putin to pull back his troops as Russia tightens its grip on Crimea

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Warning that it was "on the brink of disaster," Ukraine put its military on high alert Sunday and appealed for international help to avoid what it feared was the possibility of a wider invasion by Russia.

Outrage over Russia's military moves mounted in world capitals, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on President Vladimir Putin to pull back from "an incredible act of aggression."

A day after Russia captured the Crimean Peninsula without firing a shot, fears grew in the Ukrainian capital and beyond that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.

Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine's new government moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country's wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country's navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said there was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine and warned that "we are on the brink of disaster."

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Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto win first Oscars, 'Gravity' cleaning up in technical categories

LOS ANGELES (AP) — First-time winners Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto took supporting acting honors, while the 3-D spectacle "Gravity" amassed a force of technical awards in an Oscar ceremony punctuated by politics, pizza and photo-bombing.

Wearing Nairobi blue, the 31-year-old Nyong'o, breakout star of the historical drama "12 Years a Slave," accepted the award for best supporting actress. In her feature film debut, Nyong'o made an indelible impression as the tortured slave Patsy.

"It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsy for her guidance," said Nyong'o. She also thanked director Steve McQueen: "I'm certain that the dead are standing about you and they are watching and they are grateful, and so am I."

Two hours into the Dolby Theatre ceremony, hosted nimbly by Ellen DeGeneres, Alfonso Cuaron's box-office hit and visual marvel had accrued five Oscars, winning for cinematography, editing, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. If the Mexican Cuaron wins best director, as he's expected to, he'll be the first Latino filmmaker to take the category.

As expected, Leto won for his acclaimed, gaunt performance as a theatrical transgender suffering from AIDS in the Texas drama. He thanked his mother, his date on the night.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. 'WE ARE ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER'

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk put Ukraine's military on alert and appealed for international help after Russia tightened its grip on the Crimean peninsula.

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SHOW BITS: Stars pay tribute to those who inspired

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Show Bits brings you the 86th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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BILL MURRAY REMEMBERS HAROLD RAMIS

Bill Murray used his Oscar presenter's role to offer a tribute to the late comedy visionary Harold Ramis.

Murray, who was presenting an award for best cinematography with Amy Adams, said after the nominees' names were read, "Oh, we forgot one, Harold Ramis for 'Caddyshack,' 'Ghostbusters' and 'Groundhog Day.'"

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Crisis in Ukraine could be game-changer for US national security policy in dealing with Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Western powers on Sunday prepared a tough response to Russia's military advance into Ukraine and warned that Moscow could face economic penalties, diplomatic isolation and bolstered allied defenses in Europe unless it retreats.

The crisis may prove to be a game-changer for President Barack Obama's national security policy, forcing him to give up his foreign policy shift to Asia and to maintain U.S. troop levels in Europe to limit Russia's reach.

The ill will and mistrust also could spill over on two other global security fronts — Syria and Iran — where Russia has been a necessary partner with the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no indication that he would heed the West's warnings. Hundreds of armed men surrounded a Ukrainian military base in Crimea, a pro-Russian area. In Kiev, Ukraine's capital, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk alerted allies that "we are on the brink of disaster."

Senior Obama administration officials said they believe Russia now has complete operational control over Crimea and has more than 6,000 forces in the region. The U.S. was also watching for ethnic skirmishes in other areas of eastern Ukraine, though the officials said they had not yet seen Russian military moves elsewhere. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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At Ukrainian base, standoff with pro-Russian soldiers turns into circus

PEREVALNE, Ukraine (AP) — Just inside the main gate to the military base, four young Ukrainian soldiers stood in the middle of the road, as if somehow they alone could stop what was on the other side.

They were hardly an intimidating group. They were young and unarmed and didn't look like they had ever been anywhere near combat. One, the soldier whose eyes kept blinking nervously, didn't look old enough to shave.

Outside the gate, though, things were different. There were a half-dozen soldiers in unmarked green uniforms, all wearing helmets and body armor, and all carrying automatic weapons.

Every 50 feet (15 meters) or so, were was another pair of the soldiers, all from the military force that Russian President Vladimir Putin had used to take control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in recent days. Those soldiers, taciturn and well-disciplined, ringed the base from every side.

The soldiers outside had arrived Sunday morning in transport trucks with Russian license plates, escorted by at least one armored car with a machine gun on top.

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Separatists blamed for knife attack in China that leaves 33 dead, as residents express dismay

KUNMING, China (AP) — Authorities on Sunday blamed a slashing rampage that killed 29 people and wounded 143 at a train station in southern China on separatists from the country's far west, while local residents said government crackdowns had taken their toll on the alleged culprits.

Police fatally shot four of the assailants — putting the overall death toll at 33 — and captured another after the attack late Saturday in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. But authorities were searching for at least five more of the black-clad attackers.

State broadcaster CCTV said two of the assailants were women, including one of the slain and the one detained.

"All-out efforts should be made to treat the injured people, severely punish terrorists according to the law, and prevent the occurrence of similar cases," said China's top police official, Politburo member Meng Jianzhu, who arrived in Kunming early Sunday, an indication of how seriously authorities viewed the attack.

The attackers' identities have not been confirmed, but evidence at the scene showed that it was "a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces," Xinhua said. The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by some members of the Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE'-gur) population, and the government has responded there with heavy-handed security.

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Hero or deserter? Will Sgt. Beau Bergdahl be left behind as US withdraws from Afghanistan?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The case of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Taliban since 2009, has arisen again as the U.S. and other countries engage in diplomatic efforts to free him.

But if he is released, will America's only prisoner of the Afghan war be viewed as a hero or a deserter?

While tattered yellow ribbons still adorn utility poles in his native Hailey, Idaho, others are expressing conflicting thoughts about Bergdahl's plight as the war winds down, with President Barack Obama threatening to withdraw all U.S. troops by year's end unless the Afghan government signs a crucial security agreement.

They are convinced that on June 30, 2009, just a few months after he arrived in Afghanistan, Bergdahl willingly walked away from his unit, which was deployed in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, adjacent to the border with Pakistan. While they do want Bergdahl home, they think he should have to answer allegations that he deserted his unit.

Bergdahl was last seen in a video the Taliban released in December.

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Wide range of wintry conditions moves into Midwest, East, South with latest storm system

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tourists flocked to the monuments in the nation's capital Sunday to enjoy 50-degree temperatures before yet another winter storm was expected to dump up to a foot of snow on parts of the East Coast.

In the latest blast of a harsh winter, forecasters said a layer of ice and as much as 10 inches of snow was possible by the end of Monday in Washington and the Mid-Atlantic region, while up to 8 inches of snow was predicted across parts of southern Pennsylvania. Nearly a foot of snow was expected in parts of New Jersey.

"I'm over it," said Yasmon Hanks, 24, of Hampton, Va., echoing thoughts of many who've been cooped up inside this winter. Hanks visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall with her husband, Lynwood, and two young children. She was happy to be able to get outside, she said, because "I thought it was going to be way worse."

Elsewhere on the Mall, joggers were out in shorts and T-shirts, families flew kites and tour guides led groups around landmarks such as the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Cherry blossom trees were growing new buds for the spring.

But oh how so much can change in a matter of hours. More snow and ice, perhaps as much as 2 inches falling every hour, were on the way ahead of Monday's morning commute. By late Sunday afternoon, rain was moved into the Washington area, temperatures dropped and the city had declared a snow emergency beginning early Monday.

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Fashion It girl Lupita Nyong'o flows over Oscars red carpet in ice-blue goddess gown

NEW YORK (AP) — Amy Adams wore a strapless, dark blue Gucci couture gown and Hollywood's "it" fashion darling of the year, Lupita Nyong'o, showed up for the Oscars in a goddess look of ice-blue silk Sunday night.

Nyong'o, atop the awards season's best-dressed lists as she made the rounds for "12 Years a Slave," pulled off deep plunges front and back — and pleats top and bottom from Prada. Unafraid on red carpets, the look was full rather than form-fitting and accompanied by one of her favorite dressy headbands.

"It's a color that just lets her skin shine," said Hal Rubenstein, editor at large of InStyle magazine. "There was some faint beading up the bottom and she compared it to Champagne bubbles."

Nyong'o's fellow fashionista Jennifer Lawrence was the girl on fire in a bright orange-red strapless from Dior, while Cate Blanchett went for a heavily embellished Armani gown in a light tan, paired with huge opal drop earrings by Chopard. By embellished gown we mean jeweled from top to bottom, a look she said was "heavy, but I love it!"

Sandra Bullock wowed in a strapless, deep blue Alexander McQueen gown that showed off draping below the waist and included a short train. The evening belonged to solid colors and classic rather than edgy looks, Rubenstein said.

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